Former US vice president Albert Gore has lately been showing signs of recovery from his defeat in the 2000 presidential race. Reported to be considering a new attempt at the presidency in 2004, he has criticized President Bush's foreign policy and called for the creation of a national health insurance system taking in all Americans. As is instantly clear from today's cartoon, however, he has failed to win Pat Oliphant's good opinion. During the presidential campaign, Gore was widely derided as both pompous and incapable of deciding what he actually stood for. Oliphant depicts him as a male turkey, a bird with a decidedly pompous manner. What do male turkeys do? They "gobble", and Gore's gobbling soon turnssintos"garble".
To understand the cartoon fully, Chinese readers need to be aware that when Americans call someone a "turkey", they mean that he is a fool. This slang term refers to silly fools, not irritating ones, but that can't be much consolation for Gore. In addition, this is a bad season for turkeys, which feature as the main course in Thanksgiving feasts; Thanksgiving Day was November 28 this year. Showing Gore as a proud turkey cockduring the week of Thanksgiving suggests that his end is near, perhaps at the hands of Bush's ax-wielding campaign advisors.
By the way, even though turkeys originated in the New World, confused 16th-century Englishmen took to calling them "Turkey fowl", just as Frenchmen of the same period referred to them as "poules d' Inde" (India fowl). Shortened forms of these mistaken names have stuck with us. The wild turkey is a wily beast, but its domesticated cousins have been bred for weight, not cleverness, and are now renowned for their stupidity - hence the slang usage "You turkey!"